I’m sure if you attend CrossFit and are familiar with CrossFit lingo you have heard of the word ‘mobility.’ If you haven’t heard that word before, Kelly Starrett, a very well known coach in the CrossFit community who created the www.MobilityWOD.com and author of Supple Leopard, defined mobilization as “a movement-based integrated full-body approach that addresses all the elements that limit movement and performance […].” Basically what that means is mobility exercises can help improve your movement and performance by fixing any problems you have with tight muscles and joint issues.
Mobility or mobilizing your body is more than just flexibility and stretching your muscles. If you can’t do specific movements especially a simple air squat, you probably have some mobility issues that need to be fixed. For example you can have a strong athlete that can’t do a movement correctly not because she can’t lift the weight but because she struggles to get into full range of motion. If we take a look at the thruster movement which involves a squat that transfers directly into pressing the bar overhead. If this athlete can’t squat properly, she isn’t doing a thruster correctly. One reason she might not be able to squat is having tight hips that need to be mobilized and stretched. Or she might be having problems holding the bar in the front rack position (not able to keep the weight on the shoulders instead of arms), which makes it harder as the weight falls forward. If her shoulders are tight or she doesn’t have the flexibility to lift her elbows higher this could be a reason for that. Another problem with tight shoulders is she could be struggling to lift the weight over her head properly, which could lead to injury.
These problems listed above can prevent this athlete from moving properly. She could get away with it in the beginning but once she keeps getting stronger and the weights get heavier she might not be able to do the movement anymore or even worse injure herself.
So how do you mobilize? A foam roller and a small tennis ball can help put pressure on specific muscles that need to be “opened” or mobilized. Some exercises can be done with bands to help stretch joints. If the athlete needs even more intense mobilization, it is best to visit a physical therapist, or a massage therapist, or a chiropractor. I will provide links below with videos showing some mobility exercises.
The warm-up we have in our classes at CrossFit Q8; which includes getting the heart rate up and some dynamic movements, prepares your body for general movement. But some athletes will benefit greatly by adding some mobility exercises to their warm-up before starting their training session. I have provided a few members with additional work to do on their own, but ask your coach (or email me!) if you are interested in looking into this further.
By taking care of mobility you can help prevent injury, speed up recovery between workouts, and improve performance.
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